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Published In: Tabula Affinitatum Regni Vegetabilis 227. 1802. (2 May 1802) (Tab. Affin. Regni Veg.) Name publication detailView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/22/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted

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VALERIANACEAE (Valerian Family)

Ten to 13 genera, about 300 species, nearly worldwide.

The circumscription of the Valerianaceae in the present treatment is the traditional one, as in Steyermark (1963), Cronquist (1981, 1991), among other publications. In recent decades, phylogenetic studies (Donoghue et al., 2001; Judd et al., 1994; Bell et al., 2001) have suggested the need for a renovation of familial limits in the order Dipsacales (which includes such Missouri families as the Caprifoliaceae, Dipsacaceae, and Valerianaceae). However, the level at which the component lineages should be recognized taxonomically is still somewhat controversial. Some specialists continue to recognize the Dipsacaceae and Valerianaceae as separate, closely related families (Bell, 2004, 2007; Bell and Donoghue, 2005; Bell et al., 2012). Others have gone so far as to combine both families within an enlarged and recircumscribed Caprifoliaceae (Judd et al., 1994, 2008; Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, 2009), treating them as subfamilies or informally designated lineages within that family. For practical reasons, it is desirable to continue to treat the Valerianaceae as a separate family, as the traditional version of Caprifoliaceae was already published in Volume 2 of the present work (Yatskievych, 2006).

Species of Valerianaceae possess specialized ethereal oil cells in their tissues that contain a diversity of terpenoids. These are the chemical basis of a variety of medicinal uses of several members of the family and also tend to render the plants malodorous, especially when dried. The Valerianaceae section of most herbaria can be located easily by the nearly overpowering characteristic aroma persisting on the specimens. The oil of the European Valeriana officinalis L. (garden heliotrope, all-heal) is sometimes prescribed by physicians for problems of nervousness and insomnia, and as an anticonvulsant. It and some of the of the other showier species also have been cultivated as garden ornamentals.

Steyermark (1963) noted earlier reports of Valeriana pauciflora Michx. (large-flowered valerian) from Missouri, but excluded the species because the only specimen he could verify (said possibly to have originated from plants transplanted either from Lincoln or Warren Counties) was of a plant cultivated in a wildflower garden. He also noted, however, that this widespread eastern species is common in southern Illinois adjacent to the Missouri border, and it thus might eventually be discovered somewhere in the eastern portion of the state. Valeriana pauciflora is a tall rhizomatous perennial with the leaves pinnately divided into 3–7 lobes, the several calyx lobes apparent and becoming elongated and more or less plumose-hairy (resembling a pappus) at fruiting, and corollas 14–20 mm long.

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